Performance of motorcycles has escalated at quite a rapid pace over the past few years with outrageously powerful motors and clever electronic technology helping manufacturers stepping up the game. One particular aspect that two-wheeler giants have been focussing with a keen interest is to make their offerings lighter by employing exotic materials to take the performance game further. Use of carbon fibre panels isn’t new to two-wheelers, but, Ducati and BMW Motorrad have take it a step further by crafting components like frame, swingarm and even wheels for their flagship offerings from this lightweight material. Although the advantages of carbon fibre are clearly visible, its application has been restricted on production motorcycles because of its high cost and the labour intensive process of manufacturing it.
BMW Motorrad recently won the 2018 JEC Innovation Award for a carbon fibre swingarm prototype, which the German brand claims, can be mass-produced. The swingarm showcased uses a modular design which consists of carbon fibre and additional reinforcement materials. Unlike the traditional method of overlapping sheets of carbon, BMW is reinforcing thermoplastic materials with carbon wire, which enables it to build any component by using an automated system faster and in larger volumes thereby reducing cost. BMW claims that it can mass produce the carbon fibre swingarm, but it all depends on volumes and it’s currently evaluating the possibility of bringing this technology to a mass production motorcycle. The first production motorcycle to feature a carbon fibre swingarm is the Ducati 1299 Panigale Superleggera, which Ducati claimed was 18 per cent lighter than the aluminium swingarm used on the standard motorcycle.